Category Archives: Life at the lake


Survivorman Logo Well Mark went Halloweening as Survivorman tonight.  I am not sure where the idea came from (other than we watch the show around here every night on OLN but then again, he didn’t ask to go as Jason Hawes or Grant Wilson from Ghost Hunters). 

We went over the Dollarama and got him an appropriate bandana and a walking stick (he had a multi-tool already).  Wendy put some makeup on him and he looked like he was ready to go out and survive for 7 days without food or water.  The main difference between Mark and Les Stroud is that Mark started went out Halloweening to get his food supplies while Survivorman has to eat grasshoppers, scorpions, and the occasional snake.


Speaking of eating grasshoppers; Mark and I were watching Survivorman the other night and he was in the desert of Arizona where he was dining on a couple of them.  This is the dialogue that started afterwards.

Mark: I could do that next summer at the cabin.

Jordon: Do what?

Mark: Eat a grasshopper.  They are everywhere.

Jordon: You are going to eat a grasshopper?!

Mark: Yeah, you just take the head off it and the stomach comes out.

Jordon: I was just watching that with you.

Mark: It will be cool.

Jordon: If you go through with it, I will give you $10.

Mark: Awesome, I can eat a grasshopper and get $10.

Silence for a while as Survivorman comes back on television.

Mark: Don’t tell Mom that I am going to eat a grasshopper.

Jordon: I am so telling Wendy that you are going to eat a grasshopper and if you do, it will go on YouTube.

Mark: YouTube, this is going to be awesome.

Jordon: I had a dog that used to eat grasshoppers. 

Mark: Did it sick from tapeworms?

Jordon: I think survival rules are different for dogs.  They eat everything.

As for how Halloween went… it was too cold and miserable to take Oliver out in it and I doubt if we had 30 kids all night come to the door.  Oliver spent his entire night trying to get into the candy and then get away fast enough to a place where he could take the wrapper off of it.

What did you read this summer?

I never read much this summer (compared to other summers at least) but I did get some reading done.  Here is the list. 

So what did you read?  Any recommendations for the fall?

Why I Love Dopplr

My personal velocity

Dopplr I have become a big fan of Dopplr over the last years.  It’s a service that allows you to plan and share your trips online.  It also does some fun things like track your personal velocity which as you can see, isn’t that impressive (Joi Ito’s personal velocity is that of a Whippet while Larry Lessig’s is the same as an elephant while Wendy’s is the same as a glacier) and also shows how much carbon you are emitting.image

It also ties into Flickr and shows your photos for each of your previous trips.

Like all Web 2.0 sites, it allows you to share data with your friends and also contribute reviews of restaurants, places to explore, and places to stay when you travel.  It uses Flickr’s machine tags to link your own photos of places to places where you have been.  I have contributed to places all over the world but if you look at Arlington Beach on Dopplr, you can see how it works in a local community.

Dopplr app for iPhone and iPod Touch For those of you with an iPod Touch or a iPhone, there is also a great Dopplr app that allows you to find attractions and reviews of sites in your area.  I would have loved to have it when I was Chicago earlier this year.

One of the reason however that I have become a big fan of Dopplr is that as a family, it gives us a chance to visualize what the next couple of months have in store for us.  It let’s us look at our schedule, budget, plans, and goals and helps us find when we can go to the lake, do some travelling, and figure out when work is going to put demands on us.  Wendy is using Dopplr now as well and even Mark is going online to check out hers or my profiles to figure out when he needs to be packed.

The other cool way Dopplr is helpful is their annual report that is generated for all users.  Below is one for Barack Obama which gives you an idea of how much travelling he had to do in his run for President of the United States.

2008 Personal annual report for Barack Obama on Dopplr

My friend Dan Sheffield who works for the Free Methodist Church in Canada uses Dopplr.  Dan’s world travels would make his annual report fascinating (to me anyways).  It reminded me that it would be an effective for any denominational executive or someone who both had to travel a lot and be responsible to a constituency. 

I would love to see my city councilor, MLA, MP, and other elected officials use Dopplr (I would give bonus points to anyone who actually gave honest reviews that made my travelling easier).  If you are using Dopplr and want to connect with me, you can find me at

The death of legalism?

While up at the lake, we ran low on homogenized milk for Oliver and needed to get some on Sunday.  We drove out of Arlington Beach to the one horse town of Cymric.  There is a store in Cymric but they don’t have whole milk.  Instead of turning right to Strasbourg, we went left to Govan.  Govan was totally shut down.  Not a thing was open.  We then drove 20 kilometres to Nokomis where again the entire town was shut down except for one gas station and it was closed down for lunch.  Still no milk.  So we headed back to Cymric where Wendy wandered into the store and the owner phoned down to Digger’s in Strasbourg to make sure there was milk for Oliver. (Map of our route).  A quick look at Google Maps, shows that we took 126 kilometres to get 4 litres of milk and an Oreo ice cream bar.

The Treat Spot at Arlington Beach

Of course as we got back to the cabin, Mark wanted to go to the local ice cream stand which was open on a Sunday afternoon.  After sending him down on his bike to confirm the unthinkable (that in one of the mecca’s of Free Methodism, commerce would be allowed on Sunday), we all went down and had ice cream on Sunday at the Treat Spot (you can also find it on Dopplr).  The kicker would have been if they had whole milk but they didn’t but we did grab some pop, a game of mini-golf, and found a nice cool summer breeze.

Growing up, my mom talked about the first time she was allowed to get an ice cream cone on a hot Sunday and what a big deal that was.  Somewhere in heaven she is celebrating the fact that even Arlington Beach is now cool with having ice cream on a Sunday afternoon.

Back from the lake

We are back in Saskatoon for a couple of weeks before we head back to the lake for another week.  While we were up there, I took a couple of photos and uploaded them to Flickr.

Here is our gazebo at night. Even before we bought it, Wendy purchased some wicker lights and the star tea light holder at Jysk. We added a couple of lanterns and it gives off a nice cozy feel once the sun goes down.

The gazebo at nightThis is what the cabin looks like from the backyard at night.

The cabin at night

Despite the photo, it was Mark and I who got some mini golfing in.  Mark isn’t acknowledging who won and who lost.

August Long Weekend at the Cabin

And Hutch continues to prove why he is the world’s dumbest dog.  Just seconds before this photo, the dog was crying because a quad drove slowly by within 20 feet of him.  That was all that happened and Hutch wept and incapacitated by fear.  Oliver doesn’t look really pleased that there is a dog in his wagon.
August Long Weekend at the Cabin
We did take some time to walk along the beach.
August Long Weekend at the CabinI mentioned a couple of weeks ago that we took a queen sized bed up to the lake and barely managed to get it inside our bedroom.  Like Pierre Trudeau I believe that government should not be involved in what happens in a bedroom but in this case I thought I would make an exception and post a photo.

Our rather cramped master bedroomThere is about three feet alongside the bed and about 4 inches between the end of the bed and the wall.  It’s a cozy fit but it works.   It also means that Wendy and I can sleep without the fear of falling out of our old three quarter bed.

See you later

Wendy and I are off to the cabin for a while.  No big agenda, no major projects (other than some painting) but just some vacation time as a family.  The plan is to eat some good food, check out North America’s oldest bird sanctuary, race some remote controlled cars, read a couple of books while chilling in the gazebo, and spending some quality hours handing out with the dogs and the boys in the lake. 

No phone, no cell coverage, (oddly there is wifi), and no distractions.  Cue up the “Life at the Lake” playlist on my iPod…

One year later

A friend of mine asked me the other day if we had any regrets about purchasing our cabin last summer.  The discussion revolved around the size, the restrictions on use, and the idea of the being permanently anchored to one place for vacation.

The Size

There are four of us using under 300 square feet.  As you can imagine, it is a bit crowded with three beds, four people, and two dogs.

Instead of planning any addition, we are working at adding some outside space.  The gazebo will feature two resin Adirondack and two Cape Cod chairs along with a small coffee table.  The cabin isn’t insulated which means that it gets pretty warm in the summer.  We added a dual action window fan which makes a big difference in cooling down the cabin at night but the gazebo is where we plan to spend our evenings.

For the mornings, we are adding a small patio in the front.  We had talked about building a full deck but we settled on paving blocks.  The patio won’t be any larger than enough space to put a bistro table and two chairs out front.  I know that doesn’t leave Oliver and Mark with a chair but we won’t worry about that until they star drinking tea and coffee to start out their morning.  Plus, it may not be the worse thing to have a portion of the property that is for adults, at least for part of the day.

During the dry summer months, Mark crashes outside in his three person tent where he seems happy.  Of course once he gets too much older and his feet hang out of the end.  When that happens we will either explore the idea of adding an out building, putting up a Boler or a tent trailer, or just getting a bigger tent.

Some have asked if the four of us could live up there and with some interior renovations we could in that amount of space.  We have talked about adding a loft and with one it would work okay.  It would necessitate a much simpler lifestyle but as many have shown, it is possible to live in something smaller than a McMansion.

Restrictions on Use

One of the conditions on the lease is that it is alcohol free.  I don’t really have a problem with that.  Arlington Beach was originally a Free Methodist camp and it is a part of the holiness movement heritage.  Wendy and I very rarely consume anything alcoholic and so to be alcohol free is no big deal.  The upside of this is that I don’t have to worry about Mark getting into any alcohol or getting harassed by some drunk while he is walking to the washroom.  While people are up late sitting around a bonfire or drinking coffee, it is a different kind of noise that you get when the booze is flowing freely.  The only impact it has is on my plans for beer can chicken at the lake.  Of course I have been told by several beer drinkers that one should never waste a beer on a chicken and one can get the same impact from alcohol free beer or even water in a can.

Attached to one place

I love to travel with the family so I thought this would really bother me but it hasn’t.  The ability to get away to another place is a big plus for us.  We had talked about buying a Boler, small RV, or just tenting equipment before we got this but in the end, this was the right investment for us (I am not a big fan of tenting and I am not sure the idea of a Boler and a campground was going to work either).  We are still planning to get away to Victoria in the fall but it does give us a place to spend our vacation time this summer without worrying about expenses.  It also serves a base to attend Saskatchewan Roughriders games with it only being an hour away from Taylor Field Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field.  As I mentioned Regina is an hour away and the drive to Moose Jaw through the Qu’Appelle Valley is stunning.  If you haven’t seen the book Scenic Saskatchewan Drives, it offers several amazing day trips around Saskatchewan and many of them are easily accessible from the cabin.

So a year later and I don’t have a lot of regrets in making the investment.  The cabin is pretty modest and it fit our budget. It was recently appraised at being worth $2,000 by the local R.M. and even with having a large lot, it is worth well under $5,000 which is many times more money than we paid for it.

While last year it felt like we were still heading to a vacation property, this year it has become more like home.  The paint is ours, Mark has his own bed, the other beds and kitchen have been upgraded and improved.  While not quite the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis, Massachusetts or the Bush Compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, it is ours and for right now, it’s a pretty good fit for the family.

Interior of the cabin in 2009 Interior of the cabin in 2009  The Gazebo going up in 2009 The kitchen in 2009 Saskatchewan Roughriders BBQ cover in 2009 Mark at the marina in 2008 Mark at the marina in 2008 Maggi at Arlington Beach in 2008 The backyard of the cabin in 2008 Oliver and me at the cabin in 2008 The painted after it was painted in 2008 The painted after it was painted in 2008

The Gazebo

After looking for around for almost two years, we finally decided on a gazebo for the cabin.  We took it up on Thursday night and installed it on Friday.  After a couple of hours screwing things together, it was up, anchored, and ready for us to use it the next time we go up.

It’s 10×10 which almost doubles the amount of living space we have at the lake and more importantly gives a place to beat the heat.

A screened in gazebo at the lake

We haven’t decided yet but we may install a privacy wall or two.

Maggi at the lake

Maggi at Last Mountain Lake

We had Maggi out at the lake two weekends ago.  The great retriever lacks the elevation to find her Frisbee when it gets tossed out in the water sometimes and here she heading back to shore so she can get a couple of feet higher and find the disc.   I am not sure if she got it this time or if Mark and I had to go get it for here as there was probably 100 or so tosses out there before she was satisfied with her swim.

New fishing rod

A walleye I am not a passionate fisherman by any extent of the imagination.  I went a couple of times as a kid and I can count all of the fish I have caught on two hands but since we own a cabin and I have a kid who wants to fish, so I decided we needed a couple of rod and reels.

For Christmas I gave Mark a rod, reel, and tackle box and he gave my brother the same thing.  That took care of those two but I still needed reel and rod.  This week at Canadian Tire they are blowing out all of their stock and they had rods on for 75% off.  I went out and bought a Zebco Horizon for $9.95.  It’s not professional grade but since I live within a couple of miles of North America’s oldest bird sanctuary (that features lots and lots of pelicans), there are not a lot of fish by our end of the lake.

Now all I need to know is what kind of lures you catch Walleye with (which is Saskatchewan’s provincial fish).  That and I need to learn how to clean a fish.  Either that or I need to talk Alan Creech to take his summer holidays at my lake.

One the other end of the scale is a couple of fishing rods I bought at Dollarama for a $1 a piece.  They aren’t good for a lot other than if Mark has some friends up, we have some rods that if they get broken, no one will care.  The reels are not the smoothest I have ever used.  Apparently no one fishes in the part of China where they were made.

Weekend at the lake

We just got back from the lake a while ago.  We were going to head up on Friday night but some complications arose as Mark’s baby sitter took the kids to the zoo and they got back late.  Wendy and I were dead tired and instead of driving up to the cabin, we decided to give Mark his gift for finishing grade three.  He is going to Beaver Creek Camp in a couple of weeks and was stressing a bit over not having a cool bag to go to camp with.  We were in Wal-Mart and saw a big duffel bag with a Maple Leaf and Canada on it.  It screamed out “take me to camp” to Mark and so we got it for him.  We also got him a iTunes card.

The Kennedy brothers It was a good trip.  It was quite windy and chilly on Saturday which I didn’t mind.  I finished The Kennedys by Peter Collier & David Horowitz which is a really sad look at what the Kennedy family had to endure.  At the end as I reading about Robert and Ethel’s older kids who bore the brunt of not only losing Jack but also Bobby in rapid succession, it was heart breaking.  After I was telling Wendy about how much the Kennedy’s harassed and bugged each other, she quipped that she had no idea that she had married into the family as that is a little what we are like.  We may be but none of us over pronounce our vowels or have a staccato voice.

We had planned to do some painting while up there but we never got around to it.  Mark and Maggi went for an extended swim on Sunday that eventually included Oliver, Wendy and myself.

The Treat Spot was open for the first time we were up there.  I had never been inside before but in addition to being the keeper of the mini-golf course, it also has an assortment of ice cream and pop.

We did manage to bring up a cabinet and and a simple end table that we repainted.  The cabinet is a now a microwave stand and another pantry while the end table is in the living room.  Neither piece of furniture was all of that attractive but both were painted a mochachino brown color and look passable as cabin furniture now.

The big change at the lake was the removal of the Cottonwood Lodge.  I think it was an old ATCO type trailer that was made into dorm style rooms.  It was used for a variety of things over the years and while it would have looked a lot better all fixed up, I won’t miss it now that it is gone.

The only thing that I didn’t like about the trip was that Wendy is sure that my ball glove belongs at the lake which means that I never have it at home to play catch with Mark.  On the latest trip she not only thwarted my attempt to bring my glove home but managed to leave Mark’s up there as well.

June Weekend at the lake

June Weekend at the lake

June Weekend at the lake

June Weekend at the lake

June Weekend at the lake

June Weekend at the lake

June Weekend at the lake

Hunting in Saskatchewan

June Weekend at the lake


Well Mark brought home his report card and when I joked that he was going to be in grade three again, he wept (and I felt horrible).  So I quickly assured him not only did he pass but he did well.  The truth is that despite having a horrible year at school, his marks were really quite good and I am extremely proud of him.  On top of doing well in school this year, he got his yellow belt in karate last week.  He spent weeks working on his technique and form and I was glad for him that he got it before the summer.  I don’t know if I feel any safer as the father of a yellow belt but the coffee table trembles when he walks by.

The bad part of the day was in talking to the parents of one of Mark’s friends.  They are moving him to Caswell School next year after he was badly beaten (it seemed to fall into the category of an asault) by yet another violent kid that was in Mark’s class.  His dad saw the attack but was too far away to stop it.  Their other children have experienced it as well this year.  I don’t blame them for doing it.  We spent most of the year walking Mark to and from school but then again, so did they and it still happened.

For Mark, he finished the day with his karate summer barbecue.  Everyone chows down quickly on some hot dogs and then they pull out Super Soakers and shoot each other until ocean levels have gone down significantly.  Lee left his ice core Super Soaker at the house when he moved out and so Mark froze it and took it over as a backup weapon.  I could hear them yelling and laughing from a block away tonight.  When he walked in he said, “I need dry gitch” which just about sums up his evening.

His summer is being spent with us at the lake and he is going to Beaver Creek Camp.  Their four day camp is about perfect for heading to camp for the first time, some of his friends are going, and it’s pretty close to the city if it doesn’t work out.  On top of that, I have gotten to know and appreciate the camp directors through work and they will take good care of him.

I have vacation booked for the last week of July which I think is my first full week off work since I went to the Bahamas in 2007.  My boss looked dazed and confused as she signed my vacation request.  We are heading to the lake and then to Mosaic Stadium to watch the Saskatchewan Roughriders beat the Edmonton Eskimos.  In light traffic we are only an hour away from Mosaic Stadium.

I am going to take a week off in August as well.  I imagine that will be spent out at the lake as well.  Wendy will be working so part of the plan is for me to take Mark and Oliver out to the lake and let her chill out while not working.  Between the three of us, we should manage okay without her but you never know.

Whatever happens, I hope it is a good summer for the family.  It’s been a while since we all unwound together.

The Long Weekend

I hope everyone is having a great Victoria Day long weekend.  My original plans involved flying to Hamilton to take in Cultivate Gathering.  At the same time we are short staffed at work and the reality was there was a really good chance I was going to have to work this weekend and we were out of people to cover.  With great reluctance I cancelled my flight on the probability that I would have to work.

B.C. Legislative Building The good news is after several calls to the airline and Airmiles, we changed the ticket to take Wendy, Mark, and I to Victoria for our anniversary in October.  Mark hasn’t seen the ocean and Victoria is such a great city with some good friends in close proximity.

Since I was planning to be out of town, Wendy decided to take off to the cabin for the weekend with some friends and the kids.  When the tickets were cancelled, we decided I would chill out at home with the dog and catch up on some sleep unless I have to work.  It means that Maggi and I get to hold down the fort by ourselves and I get to do some reading.  I finally picked up Michael Lewis’s book, Liar’s Poker and Paul Krugman’s book, The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008 and so by Monday I will hopefully have learned something that I didn’t know today.  I am not sure what Maggi will be reading.

I am also planning to do some biking this weekend.  I am already a couple hundred kilometers behind Dave King.